Dining out is difficult when you have food allergies. Especially at Panera. Panera is a big no-no in our nut-free house. Which is hard because I LOVE it. Panera’s fast, healthy options are so tasty, they are perfect for busy Moms on the go.
However, for my daughter, this place is very risky. The chance for cross-contact in their kitchen is high. They use all sorts of nuts in their salads and the make-line area is very open, offering little to no menu options to be deemed as “safe” here. Their bakery items have a warning, “Many of our products contain or may come into contact with common allergens, including wheat, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish and shellfish.” And even more details here.
However, when we are in a pinch, and this is the ONLY option, I have allowed two things from Panera.
- Kids macaroni and cheese
- Tomato Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup
I’ve always done this in PERSON and have watched the prep area make the food. If I ever feel like this is not a good idea, Chloe eats an Enjoy Life (Always in my purse, always) granola bar until we can find something else. Not every restaurant is great at handling food allergies. So why risk it.
Last week I had a chance to eat lunch with a good friend at Panera and ordered something new for the first time in a long time. Usually when I Panera, it’s a UPICK2, greek salad and panini or black bean soup.
This time, I tried a pasta dish called Baja Mac N Cheese. Basically it’s the kids mac n cheese with pico de gallo over the top with avocado. For 530 calories I was full for 5 hours, and I only had the kid size portion. This dish was so good I wanted to remake it. But I did not. YET.
Instead, I was super naughty and ate a giant cookie that I usually never order since I don’t want to make my daughter feel bad. But since she wasn’t with me, I splurged on the cookie. Which was AMAZING.
Lets make sure the cookie gets the attention it deserves.
The Kitchen Sink Cookie is my new favorite cookie. I’m not even sure I like a plain old chocolate chip cookie as much as I LOVE this cookie.
Kitchen Sink Cookie Recipe
- 1 cup butter, browned
- 1½ cups brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur is nut-free)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. sea sat, and more for sprinkling
- ¾ cup broken pretzels, and more for on top (Rold Gold)
- 1 and ½ cups caramel bits, and more for top (I used Kraft brand)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, and more for on top (Enjoy Life Brand)
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees and prepare your baking sheets
- To brown the butter: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, whisking as it melts, foams, bubbles, and eventually little brown bits form and it turns amber. Immediately pour into your mixing bowl, be sure to use a spatula to scrape all the little brown bits into the bowl (they are full of wonderful flavor).
- Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together for a couple minutes, then add the vanilla.
- Next add the eggs and beat until the are well incorporated.
- Add the baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, and about a third of the flour. Mix slowly, add another third of flour, mix, and add the last of the flour until just combined. Do not over mix the dough.
- Fold in the pretzels, caramel bits, and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
- Scoop out very large balls of dough (¼ cup size) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between (plan on doing multiple batches.) Add more broken pretzel pieces, caramel bits, and chocolate chips to the tops of the dough balls to preference. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake 13-15 minutes (this will vary, according to the size of your cookies), until golden around the edges. Do not over cook! Remove and allow to set up and cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Side note: I do not like huge cookies, so we use a small ball scooper, looks like an ice cream scooper.
Special thanks to Mel & Boys Kitchen Blog for this recipe. I am so grateful + happy to have this amazing recipe in my book now!